A PV system on the property of the US Energy lab at Brookhaven, on Long Island, NY
Assemblyman Fred Thiele (Independent, AD2) who caucuses with the Democrats (used to be a Republican - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Thiele) and Senator Ken Lavalle (Republican, SD1), both located at the east end of Long Island (the Hamptons) have introduced a solar photovoltaic (PV) Feed-In Tariff (FIT) proposed legislation. These bills are A7178 and S4862, and they specifically site the success of Germany and Gainesville, Florida (Gainesville Regional Utility, alias GRU) with regards to PV job creation - both manufacturing and installation. We wish them luck in their endeavor, and hopefully this very limited "testing" in NY State will be expanded. After all, this is the windiest part of NY's flat lands (only a few mountain tops/ridgelines in the Catskills and Adirondaks are windier), the offshore waters are shallow AND windy, there is an awesome tidal resource, and this part of NY has some of the most expensive electricity - especially in high demand days in the summer. Long Island holds the record for the most expensive hourly price - 99.5 c/kw-hr in August of 2006. Some PV at the time would have helped....
The Assembly and Senate Bills are apparently the same (needed for passage) - see http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?default_fld=&bn=A07178&term=2011&Summary=Y&Text=Y for details. As with a lot of legislation, often the language points to questions, such as what this portion actually means:
48 NO MORE THAN ONE HUNDRED MEGAWATTS OF ALTERNATING CURRENT RATEDDiscussion
49 PEAK ELECTRICITY IS SUBJECT TO THE REQUIREMENTS OF THIS SECTION.
In the 1970's, the Long Island Lighting Company (LILCO) monopoly decided to build a 1.1 GW nuke plant (a clone of the Nine Mile 2 unit and of the big ones at Fukushima) at Shoreham (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoreham_Nuclear_Power_Plant), despite the problem of no possibility of timely evacuation of the Long Island/NY City/Connecticut coastal regions if there was an accident. But, they proceeded on their own corporate version of this Hellbound Train, no matter what. The Three Mile Island partial core meltdown added billions in revamps/delays/design modifications, and LILCO still had no answer to the big "What If?" questions, especially in regards to evacuation. By 1986 - and especially with the April 1986 Chernobyl disaster freshly imprinted in their minds, over 74% of LILCO ratepayers were opposed to this $6 billion plus "platinum plated turkey". Gov. Mario Cuomo actually ordered NY State officials NOT to approve of any LILCO sponsored evacuation plans. The plant never did receive full power operating permits, and so the plant could not operate.
In effect LILCO had flushed $6 billion PLUS INTEREST of shareholder equity/company capital down the proverbial sewer, and they were the walking corporate dead. In return for agreeing to decommission the plant, NY State formed LIPA - the Long Island Power Authority (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_Island_Power_Authority) - in 1985 via the Long Island Power Act. It acquired the assets (and debts) of LILCO in 1985, as well as the transmission system in 1988. As such, LIPA is a municipal electric utility (MEU) owned by not the Long Island ratepayers/community but by the people of NY State via the state government. A big part of their job was to pay off the Shoreham debt via monthly charges onto ratepayers. LIPA has about 3 million people serviced by them (1.1 million customers), and they are one of the biggest MEU's in the U.S. It's 2011 revenues were around $2.8 billion, mostly derived from sales of transmitted electricity averaging around 2.5 GW (initial 9 months of 2011 was 2681 MW).
In the proposed bill, only solar PV is covered. Long Island has a tidal resource of up to 2 GW with the water that flows in and out of Long Island Sound (about a 10 foot height range or more) twice every day. It also has a great wind resource onshore (the region is really flat and next to some decently windy ocean), and then there is a huge offshore region of shallow waters with an average wind speed of around 9 m/s at hub heights (see http://www.wagengineering.blogspot.com/2011/12/ny-new-years-resolution-real-wealth.html). Odds are, some biomass and biogas also could be tapped. But maybe these other renewables that are actually lower cost electricity production techniques than solar PV can be incorporated in a subsequent bill. After all, Long Island could completely power up on an average basis, and even be a net exporter of electricity to NYC, and via NYC/underwater cables across Long Island Sound, it can tap into a lot of deferred hydro or pumped hydroelectric stored energy.....
Anyway, this bill is a bridge to SOMEWHERE, and it is a start. LIPA can do this because they do not always have to choose the cheapest and most foolish/most polluting power price for any given hour, unless the management chooses to do so. They can actually incorporate human values, such as local real wealth creation, job growth and the real cost of CO2 pollution (which is more like $85/ton of CO2 pollutant per the Stern Review Report - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stern_Review), the real costs of dependence on depleting fossil fuels (alias natural gas and coal).
And of course, Long Island is smack dab in the cross-hairs of the Global Climate Change ... er .. war (of words, of philosophy, of science versus ignorance, or petrochemical greed versus our collective common good, etc). That is because slightly warmer atmospheric temperatures worldwide lead to significantly warmer temperatures over Greenland and also in the ocean waters in the Arctic Ocean and Atlantic that are next to Greenland. This leads to melting waters on the Greenland land mass/from its ice-sheets that can be a mile thick or more. The ice-melt water borrows through the ice/sinks to the land, and then flows to the ocean, in the process lubricating the land-ice interface. And this can lead to massive "landslides" of ice. Ice is also brittle - like glass, you can compress it, but you can't stretch it without it breaking. Ice sheets lubricated by a water film that are located on a sloping land mass will crack apart under their own weight, and start moving pretty fast. So within a matter of a few years, a lot of Greenland's stored ice can slide into the Atlantic, causing all kinds of misery. Notably, a 5 meter rise in ocean levels. The details can be found in Jim Hansen's latest article: http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/
That would not be good for a lot of locations, but especially Long Island, whose highest elevation is around 125 feet above present sea-level. The island is really a big sand-bar, and the eastern end is particularly flat. So, converting a lot of NY State's most valuable real estate into a fish farm is economically the equivalent of "biting the big one". Dumb on an epic scale is another polite way of putting it.
FITs deliver more renewable energy, more jobs and more economic growth for a given investment than any other renewable energy system yet devised, all at zero cost to the taxpayer. They democratize investment opportunities, ending the defacto monopoly of the super rich with lots of passive income. In fact, FITs will raise governmental income (tax revenue) at constant tax rates because they stimulate economic activity via by-passing useless financial gambling and risks associated with unknowable future electricity prices. And that's pretty cool.... and if it takes this baby-step on Long Island to get the ball rolling, well, why not. But, we don't have eternity to wait - the clock is ticking, and Greenland's ice is melting at an accelerating rate (exponentially so, to). So hurry up about it, eh?